Thursday, October 27, 2005

# Posted 12:11 PM by Patrick Belton  

OXBLOG DOES EXPLAINER: Okay, I should be writing, but you guys are just too much fun to leave. So the Israeli prime minister has called for Iran's expulsion from the United Nations, or, to use the rhetoric of the moment, wiping Iran off the map of the General Assembly. (Does that also entail pushing Iran into the East River? - ed. Perhaps, but that sounds rather more difficult; plus there's always the danger of injuring Schrödinger's Cat, purported to be living on the Upper East Side).

Purely as a legal matter, can that be done? Apparently yes, though there isn't precedent within the current United Nations. (The closest is when in 1971 the General Assembly voted to change the government entitled to the Chinese seats in the General Assembly and Security Council from that based in Taipei to that in Beijing, but 'China' per se retained its U.N. membership.) The expulsion clause lies in Article 6, which provides the General Assembly with the ability to expel a state, if the Security Council has first recommended it do so (thus making the power vetoable by the P-5), and if the state has 'persistently violated' the principles contained in the Charter. The principles most explicitly associated with membership are mentioned in Article 4, i.e., being 'peace-loving,' (i.e., a strong case of 'like' doesn't cut it) as well as having the state capacity and intention to carry out obligations assumed under the Charter. The relevant sections, drawn from the Jesse Helms Handy-Dandy Pocket Guide to the UN Charter:
Article 4

1. Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states [i.e., beyond signatories] which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.

2. The admission of any such state to membership in the Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

Article 5

A Member of the United Nations against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The exercise of these rights and privileges may be restored by the Security Council.

Article 6

A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
The closest you can get to this actually being done was within the UN's granddaddy, the League of Nations, which expelled the USSR on 14 December, 1939 upon appeal from Finland, after it rather unsportingly invaded Finland several weeks before (you can read the resolution here). This was, incidentally, the very last thing the League Council ever did. So I think the precedent is clear: the United Nations could indeed, if it so chose, vote to exclude Iran from membership. Particularly if Iran happens to invade Finland. In which case the Rockefeller family might get back some midtown riverfront property.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments: Post a Comment